I had an appointment with the vet to have Cassie’s leg re-assessed on Friday, so I have been a nervous wreck all week. It was one of those situations where you might have to face up to something unpleasant, so it is tempting to childishly put it off, except that you have to get through it anyway, so it is better to get it over with. The past couple of months I have entertained myself with worrying about Cassie’s leg, willing her to heal and trying not to think about what to do if she was permanently damaged. In preparation for visiting the vet I took her down to the road earlier this week to trot her in hand, trying to determine myself whether she was still lame or not. It is not easy to watch your horse when you’re running beside her and have to watch where you put your own feet too! Cassie thought it was great fun, she was full of energy, tail high like a flag, eyes bright and shining and I thought she looked really good, but I found it impossible to tell if she was fully sound or not. So after that we just took it easy, strolling along with Cassie enthusiastically browsing the hedge-rows.
On Friday I was just about ready to set off when the vet cancelled due to an emergency. We rescheduled for today and early this afternoon, I loaded Cassie in the trailer and we drove to the other end of the County to meet the vet. It’s about an hour’s drive, and I still don’t like towing a horse-box, but it was a beautiful day and Cassie was very calm in the trailer. When we got to the vet’s yard he wasn’t there yet, so I unloaded Cassie and let her stretch her legs and have a pick of grass.
The vet arrived and he examined Cassie’s leg. The bone-spur has more than halved in size and he was pleased with the way it looked. He asked me to walk Cassie up and down the yard a couple of times and then we did a few laps in trot on both hands. “That looks really good”, he said, “that spur is not interfering with the suspensory anymore, just walk her over here and we’ll do a flexion test.” That was going to be important, but she passed the flexion test too! Next was a scan to check the condition of the suspensory ligament. Cassie was very interested in the monitor of the scanner and it kept her entertained while the vet clipped her leg and started scanning. When he told me that the suspensory looked normal and that the inflammation had gone I just couldn’t believe it! All of a sudden a heavy load fell off me. I had found it very depressing that both my mares had leg injuries with uncertain prognosis, and to get the go-ahead to start rehabilitating Cassie just felt incredible. Then it dawned on me that the vet was still talking, so I brought my attention back to earth. “You know”, he said, “I looked over my case notes this morning, and I really didn’t think it looked good. I had scored her a 4 out of 5 on lameness and I thought prognosis for recovery was bleak. You’ve done really well with her.”
We discussed a rehabilitation programme and then we talked about alternative therapies, as he was interested in what I had used on Cassie. For the record, here is a list of treatments and products I have used:
– homoeopathic Arnica 200c for 3 days after she got kicked
– Arnica cooling leg gel. I used this daily to help reduce bruising and swelling, until she was seen by the vet.
– DMSO cream with cortisol, prescribed by the vet, for 10 days. Then I continued with Comfrey root ointment. I massaged the ointment into the bone-spur for 10 minutes morning and evening and I did this for two months. I stopped because her skin was getting irritated and Cassie started pulling her leg away.
– Meadowsweet. This herb just grows in hedge-rows and is an excellent anti-inflammatory and it is also the herbal aspirine. I took Cassie to places where it was abundant and let her eat it at will.
– After I stopped using Comfrey ointment, I continued with Comfrey leaf, cut and dried, added to her feed until last week.
– Homoeopathic Calc fluor and Hekla lava 1M combined, 1 dose every 4 weeks. I might give her a few more doses to see if it will help to reduce the bone-spur still further.
I think for any injury an initial dose of Arnica is very important to deal with bruising, and I love herbs. If given the choice, horses often self-medicate by eating the herbs that are useful to them. Minnie and Cassie both love browsing hedge-rows and road verges and I always find it interesting to see what they eat and when. I was fascinated by the fact that Cassie only ate the Meadowsweet during the period that there was still heat in her leg, when the heat was gone she lost interest (and switched to thistles instead).
I drove home today with a big smile splitting my face. We were back just in time for Cassie to enjoy an hour of grazing in the last bit of sunshine before it got dark. Tomorrow, we start re-hab: 3 or 4 weeks of in-hand walking out on the roads, gradually increasing distance to build up strength and stamina. I’m looking forward to it; we can both do with the exercise anyway, we might even get fit together!